Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Nosey Neighbors Are Closing in on Me

Contrary to what you may think from reading this blog, I am actually a very private person. No, really. I don't like peeps gettin all up in my business, if you know what I mean. They need to step off. My mother is the same way, and she has taught me all the good tricks: lying on the floor when the paper boy comes to collect money, or when an unexpected visitor stops by; waiting until after midnight to dump trash in the dumpster at the hoity-toity condos next to our house. That kind of thing.

The house where I grew up, and behind which I now live with my own little family, used to be perfect for us secretive, private people who hate to be watched. It USED to be surrounded by beautiful orchards and wild woods, and NOBODY watched us play "Native Americans" in the backyard, or eat our weight in cherries off the trees. Growing up I actually was a little jealous of my friends who lived in posh cul-de-sacs on Grandview Hill, and who fell asleep at night to the sound of the neighbor's dog barking, or some teenagers toilet-papering a house down the street. Our house seemed so out of the ordinary, and I wanted to be ordinary.

But I snapped out of that right quick once I hit my video-making years, and the N family moved in across the street from us. Oddly, these two seemingly unconnected events really had a lot in common: I made silly videos with my friends out on our front porch, and the next day Mrs. N would comment on them, like so: "I saw you and your friends out on your porch yesterday. What were you DOING? What were you wearing? Why were you jumping around with swords?" etc. Anything unusual coming from our front lawn needed not only a full explanation, but also an embarrassing admission that I am "crazy." Maybe she was just trying to be neighborly. I didn't know, because I had never had neighbors across the street before. I didn't know neighbors had time to sit at their windows and watch other neighbors make videos on their front porch. If that's what it means to live in a posh cul-de-sac on Grandview Hill, then NO THANK YOU.

Things just kept getting worse with Mrs. N: "I saw you out doing yard work the other day. What kind of gloves were you wearing?" she would say to my mother, or "you need to tell me why there are balloons on your front porch," "did you get new curtains?" etc. This enraged my mother, who is worse than me in the privacy department, but eventually we adjusted to it, and tried to have joy in the fact that there was still one orchard left on the north side of the house. Well, this was not to be. Ivory Homes has torn our orchard down and replaced the beautiful pear tree blossoms with overpriced monstrocities that overlook our once-completely-hidden-from-view homes and yard. It's embarrassing. I can't walk out my front door without people looking at me. And they ARE watching, lest you think I am just overly-paranoid.

Case in point: a few weeks ago Holden was riding his tractor in OUR backyard, which has been taken over by an Ivory Home. We were minding our own business. Holden was having maybe a little too much fun and he ended up tipping his tractor over. I rushed to his aid, and the ENTIRE family living in the Ivory Home came out on their porch to ask if he was all right. Did the WHOLE family need to come out? Did they? They also came out the other day when we were clearing the Ivory Homes construction trash from our yard. We are being watched. And I hate it.

I REALLY hated it yesterday when I opened my car door and accidentally hit myself smack in the head with it (I mean, who hasn't done that? Really). The pain was excruciating, and I started to scream and cry, then ran inside. I was crying because it hurt. I was laughing because I had just hit myself in the forehead with my car door (and it was definitely gonna leave a mark). I was hysterical because I knew that not only had the Ivory Homes residents and construction workers witnessed this, but Mrs. N had, as well. A few moments later, the phone rang. I immediately assumed that it was Mrs. N, calling to see if everything was okay. The bitter old hag in me would like to say that it WAS her. But it actually wasn't. Yet I am sure that when I see her at church, she'll be asking about it: "I saw you hit yourself with your car door the other day. That looked like it really hurt. Did you get stitches?"


  1. Cletis, I'm sorry Ivory Homes has ruined your life. You should be glad I don't live there though, because I would probably be watching you 24-7. I am a nosey neighbor myself.

    I have pictures with my Freshman roommates at BYU all lined up watching people in the next hall come home from their dates. I have stayed up into the early hours of the morning to watch the police give a scare to some kids outside and take pictures of them IN OUR YARD. I have turned the lights off and stood in my shower to watch the neighbors behind us do some sort of dancing and chanting around a fire in their back yard. I have spent who knows how much time watching the neighbors next door mow their lawn, and hope they will mow ours too... Or our other next door neighbors loading trucks, and paving their yard, etc, etc...

    It is probably just because you are such an interesting and dope person. But it IS your crib, and if you want to, you should just tell them to step off.

  2. I am like you with the whole privacy thing. That's why I worry what my neighbors think of ME. I have an great, far-off view of the Sierras from the window on our the landing of our stairs. I catch myself all the time staring out the window AT THE SIERRAS as I walk down the stairs.

    I am NOT staring into the backyard of the dear lezbians next door and their FABULOUS pool and gazeebo and wonderful landscaping. I'm not. Really...

  3. I remember that nosy Mrs. N. But wasn't it really her whole family? I guess if they hadn't seen the video camera it would look like a few 16 year olds playing pretend...usually bedecked with hot pants OR a mascara mustache.

    I agree about feeling invaded by neighbors, like when the A. family moved in next door to me and EVERY TIME I mowed my lawn one of their several greek-god-esque sons would come out on their porch (that conveniently looked into our yard) and eat his cereal while watching me. And you know it's not a pretty sight to watch me mow a lawn.

    So, I agree that those Ivory homes are so upsetting. Your house was so wonderfully secluded. I remember all of our good times playing "native americans" back there too. Mmmm, trail mix.

    In protest to Ivory Homes every time I drive by I shake my fist at them...if they're not looking.

  4. And Marcy, my lawn mowing story is in no way implicating you as a nosey neighbor...at least you watch incognito. Those boys were just a little too brazen in their watching. Truth be known, I am a bit of a watcher myself.

  5. Robyn, no offense taken. I know I am a nosey neighbor and I can handle it. It is not really that fun to watch someone mow the lawn for a long time... the reason I keep checking is really to see if they are mowing ours too. It all started with our nice little 14-year-old neighbor Dominic who saw me having trouble starting the lawnmower...probably a few times. So sometimes he is nice and mows our front lawn when he is doing his. We secretly watch so we don't walk out the front door WHILE he is mowing our lawn to hop in the car in our swimsuits with our beach towels (awkward).

  6. Don't feel bad about your spying, Marcy. At least you don't let people KNOW that you are watching. Secretive spying (and then laughing about it with others) is perfectly acceptable.

    And Robyn, I maintain that you are exaggerating about your lawn-mowing demeanor. I think it couldn't possibly be as bad as you assume. Otherwise, why would those greek gods have WANTED to watch you? Chew on that one.

  7. I am a TOTAL watcher. You wouldn't want me to be your neighbor. Although it would all be secretive, and I would laugh. i would just wonder...I would wonder at your mysterious "native american" ways...

    My grandma lives RIGHT BY the Bountiful temple all up there on the hill, and she has a TELESCOPE...it's peeper Shangri-La...plus she knows all the gossip about who you're watching...